Atlanta Braves catcher Gerald Laird (right) waits for the ball while Philadelphia Phillies catcher Erik Kratz (left) scores behind him during the second inning at Turner Field. The Braves lost, 2-0.
ATLANTA -- Cliff Lee limited the Atlanta Braves to two hits and didn’t allow a runner to reach second base as the Philadelphia Phillies salvaged the finale of the season-opening three-game series with a 2-0 victory Thursday night.
The Braves had slugged six homers and scored 16 runs in winning the first two games. But Lee completely handcuffed them, striking out eight and walking none. Of his 106 pitches, 78 were strikes.
Jonathan Papelbon pitched the ninth inning and retired the Braves in order for his first save of the season.
The Phillies’ runs came in the second inning and were enough to snap a streak of 23 straight victories by the Braves in regular-season games started by Kris Medlen.
Dan Uggla was stranded at first after a two-out single in the second and Justin Upton was eliminated by a double play after a one-out hit in the fourth. Gerald Laird reached on an error by second baseman Chase Utley to lead off the sixth, but Lee retired the next three batters to start a streak of nine straight outs.
Lee didn’t get a win until his 14th start last season because of a lack of run support and finished 6-9 despite a 3.16 ERA. The Phillies scored just 75 runs in his 30 starts and his 15 no-decisions tied for the most in the National League. He allowed one earned run over 15 innings in two starts against the Braves last season, but was 1-1.
Medlen was 9-0 with a 0.97 ERA in 12 outings after moving into the rotation last year and the Braves hadn’t lost a regular-season game since 2010 that he had started. He missed most of the 2011 season because of Tommy John elbow surgery.
Medlen escaped a bases-loaded jam in the first inning by getting Domonic Brown to bounce out, but the Phillies scored twice in the second.
Laynce Nix had a single and Erik Kratz a double to start the inning and Medlen walked Lee to load the bases with no outs. Nix scored on a fielder’s choice and Kratz on Chase Utley’s sacrifice fly.
Laboring with his command, Medlen needed 27 pitches in the first inning, 22 more in the second and 83 through four innings. But the Phillies left a runner on in the third and two more in the fourth before Medlen finally had a 1-2-3 inning in the fifth.
Medlen allowed six hits, walked four and struck out three in his five innings. He missed the strike zone on 35 of his 92 pitches.
Medlen had given up 14 hits and nine runs to the Phillies in a Grapefruit League game on March 18. He finished spring training with a 7.23 ERA in five outings.
NOTES: Rain stopped prior to the game, but the temperature at first pitch was 41 degrees in a light mist and the wind-chill made it feel like 35 degrees. … Braves right fielder Jason Heyward received his Rawlings Gold Glove in a pregame ceremony. It is the 23-year-old’s first such honor. … The Phillies play their home opener Friday, facing Kansas City in an interleague series that is a rematch of the 1980 World Series. Right-hander Kyle Kendrick will pitch for the Phillies against right-hander Wade Davis, who is making his debut with the Royals. … Shortstop Jimmy Rollins played in his 1,795th game, passing Richie Asburn and moving into second place by himself on the Phillies’ all-time list. He needs to play in 610 more games in a Phillies uniform to pass Hall of Famer Mike Schmidt for the record. … Upton had struck out six straight times before bouncing out in his second at-bat against Lee.